Houston Matters

Astros extension of beer sales through end of game raises concerns from MADD

“The only thing to sober you up is time. So any time there a lessened time, it’s more of a chance that you’re behind the wheel intoxicated.” 


Fans watch play during the fifth inning in Game 2 of baseball’s American League Championship Series between the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022, in Houston.


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The Houston Astros, starting this past weekend, joined a growing number of teams who extended their alcohol sales during Major League Baseball games.

Traditionally beer sales stop at the end of the seventh inning, but this year there is a new pitch clock that has shortened games by half an hour. To counter that lost revenue, the Astros extended sales right up to the last pitch. That means there’s a chance more baseball fans could leave the ballpark after consuming more alcohol and potentially drive themselves home.

Casie Harris is manager of victim services with the Houston and Beaumont chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving – MADD, and spoke with Houston Matters with Craig Cohen on Monday.

“Harris County is number one in the country for alcohol-related fatalities, so there is a chance that that could rise,” Harris said. “The DWI rate in Harris County is extremely high also, and it’s a scare to be out on the road anytime someone is intoxicated.”

Harris said she is concerned that there is a gap between the time someone consumed their final drink and when they leave the ballpark.

“The only thing to sober you up is time,” she said. “So any time there a lessened time, it’s more of a chance that you’re behind the wheel intoxicated.”

In a recent Baseball Isn’t Boring podcast interview, Phillies player Matt Strahm said he disagreed with the decision.

“The reason we stopped it in the seventh before was to give our fans time to sober up and drive home safe,” he said in the podcast interview. “So now with a faster paced game, and me just being a man of common sense, if the games are going to finish quicker, would we not move the beer sales back to the sixth inning to give our fans time to sober up and drive home?”

He added that it puts fans at risk to people who had alcohol “22 minutes ago.”

Harris agreed.

“I mean I feel like he makes a point,” she said. “It makes a lot of sense to me.”

Harris said that the state was trending down in alcohol-related accidents, but in 2020 the number of drunk driving incidents began going up.

“Everybody was supposed to be staying home, but apparently they weren’t,” she said. She added that liquor stores were deemed essential, and people were able to get to-go liquor. And the shift has continued. “It’s still on the rise, it’s not just DWI, it’s crashes where people have been killed or injured.”

Harris added that it’s easy to not drink and drive with ride share being readily available.

“Drunk driving is a choice made sober, because you know before you take that first drink you have to figure out how you’re getting where ever you’re going,” she said. “So it’s just planning.”